Can you write me up a program?
This is a question I get asked quite often. Most of time the ones asking me this question are athletes who want to do something to improve in their sport or are tired of looking the way they do, and don’t know where to start. Others ask me this question because their coach has told them to get on a weight training program to “bulk up”. And finally the last group of people to ask me this question are those who didn’t get noticed at their last competition and want desperately to change something about themselves that will get them noticed next time around.
You see there is something about having a formal training and nutrition program that empowers these athletes and gives them a sense of confidence in that what they are doing will not be in vain.
That is why, in my opinion, “doing up a program” should not be taken lightly as your influence and direction is what they will believe in and bank on for personal gain.
It would be very easy to sit at a computer, type out a very generic program, fire off a bunch of emails or print off multiple copies and then start handing them out.
That way everyone that asked would have one and anyone coming to your door in the future would have immediate access to one. But that’s not the approach that should be taken. Athletes like to feel special and they like to know that what they are doing is specific to them. The athletes that are training and competing at the highest levels in their sport are so close in athletic ability and physical appearance that they need to find something that will separate them from their peers, and that training program you give them could do just that. All it takes is a few specific questions like,
“What has your coach told you to improve on, what types of movements are required for your sport or position, how many times a day do you eat and what are you eating, what did the judges tell you to improve on, what are your weak areas”
or any question similar to those. Once you get that information you can then begin to formulate a plan and corresponding strategy.
The “bulking up” scenario I mentioned earlier is usually saved for those athletes who are smaller than their peers but have the same abilities or have been told that to compete at the next level they simply need more size. When an athlete hears this the first thing they do is seek advice from someone who is bigger than them to see what they have been doing. What they don’t realize, however, is that the person they are asking probably has the genetics to be big naturally and what works for them may not work for someone else.
My advice to an athlete looking to bulk up is to be patient.
A sound nutrition/supplement program coupled with a resistance training program is exactly what they need, but they also need time. I always tell my athletes and students that it is a marathon and not a sprint when it comes to training and nutrition and getting the results they are looking for when size is the priority. To put on quality, functional body mass you have to stick with your program and be patient, it will happen. There’s also no sense in putting on size for the sake of mass, and if you can’t flex it you can’t use it.
Being accepted into your peer group, whether that is a team or a brother/sisterhood such as the iron game, is very important for many people.
It is the true mark of respect and an indication that you have finally made it. If you are an athlete you know what I’m talking about here. It’s something that sticks with you for life. Not being a part of that based on something you can change is very motivating. Once a plan has been given to these individuals and they can see the work it’s going to take to get to their finish line and finally get the recognition they have been desperately seeking, a motivation and sheer desire like no other will come to fruition and you better stand back or join in because nothing will get in the way of these athletes attaining what they have set out to achieve. I do have some cautionary advice here though. If one of these athletes comes to you for help you have to be careful of their overzealousness.
They are willing to do anything regardless of how long it will take and they will equate downtime with a missed opportunity to improve.
You have to instil in them early that rest is just as important as their training. Not just the rest in between training sessions but their rest at other times as well. Instead of staying on the outdoor court past midnight, or putting in longer than needed hours in the gym, tell them to go home and get some sleep so that they can have an even more productive training session the next day.
Here is my final piece of advice regarding program design. If you are an athlete looking for guidance, find someone who will actually give you the time you deserve to set up a meaningful program designed to your specific needs and goals and genuinely want to see you improve. If you are the one being asked to set up a program for an athlete, put yourself in their position and understand that what you say will have a huge impact on their life and their expectations and above all else, they are trusting you with something very personal to them; and that’s their success.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, Endevr Brand Ambassador, Max Out or Get Out apparel sponsored writer, Sponsored by Schiek, SKECHERS Brand Ambassador